Saturday, November 25, 2023

Today's Challenge: Looking for Goodness

Friends have described insights they have received from journaling or developing an Attitude of Gratitude(I've fallen in and out of my own journal writing -- and am currently taking a breather!). Other friends have described their supervisory goal of "catching employees doing good."  (I tried this as a supervisor and enjoyed seeing the surprise and smiles on employees' faces when they were recognized for their ideas and accomplishments.)

Just recently I read about a group of friends who committed themselves -- as a group -- to a Goodness Challenge.  That is, at the end of each day they individually documented the goodness they saw or experienced that day.  Then, they met at a restaurant each weekend and shared what they had encountered and written.

How often does "Goodness Begin with You"?
(Photo credit: Accident Fee Workplace Sign - Cousign)

There are so many ways that we can focus on goodness and gratitude:  what is working versus what is not; what people are doing right versus when something goes amiss; and what is sacred and holy about the people around us versus what is wrong.

In this season of Giving Thanks, we are challenged to:

  • Appreciate people for who they are.
  • Recognize their efforts and accomplishments.
  • Inspire goodness and great things from one another.

Do you reach out in a spirit of welcoming and trust?
(Photo credit: 5 Characteristics to Identify the
Goodness in People
- Inc.)

Our actions may start with a smile, a warm greeting, a handshake, or a hug.  Then, the challenge is to let our critical minds relax for a few hours,
focus on the goodness of that person, and enjoy their presence in our lives.

Goodness also comes in a Make-a-Wish mindset: that is, listening to the wants, needs, and dreams of another person... and surprising that person with an unexpected gift of friendship and generosity.

When do you smile and with whom?
(Photo credit:  Mother Teresa - Picture Disc & Books)

If you need a few examples -- or need an uplifting moment at the end of a rough day, search YouTube for "Secret Santa East Idaho News" or Ellen Degeneres' "Military Surprise" and "Teacher Surprise" for ways that people are recognized.  We may not have millions to give away, but any way that we can gift people with our presence (time), recognition (focus), and kindness (attitude of goodness) will help us reframe how we see and experience this world.

Our challenge this holiday and holy season is to See Goodness!  Are you ready?!

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Saturday, November 18, 2023

What Did You Say?

It's so easy these days to be on autopilot: whether it is driving on the freeway using our car's cruise control; walking across the street as we read our texts and emails; or half-listening to what a Loved One is saying.  Unfortunately, our magnificent brains go largely unused when we don't engage with what is happening around us... like noticing a smile, tear, or the beauty of a sunset -- or -- when we use our smart devices to remind us of what is important and not think of what we may be missing -- or -- when we don't actively analyze the sensory details we take in every moment.

I wonder if that is why we are having so many problems in our world today:  are we on autopilot too often?

What did you say?
(Photo credit:  Hearing and Understanding are
Two Different Things
, Chatsworth Consulting Group)

Combined with our auto-natures, maybe we have a tendency to believe (incorrectly!) that Assumptions = Facts.  Maybe we need to be reminded that assumptions are merely times when we are filling in the gaps, answering questions without all the information, or jumping to conclusions.  None of these are wrong... but they are not facts!  For instance, when we are on autopilot, maybe we assume we know what really happened.

Think of recent conversations you have had:  when on autopilot...

  • Did you read into... or add meaning... to what was said?
  • How much did you already know... or thought you knew?
  • How many questions did you ask... out of curiosity... to understand more fully what was being said?

How much did you add to what was said?
(Photo credit:  Andy Babitz)

I am fascinated at the origins of some words and how we use them.  For example, people sometimes use conversation and dialogue interchangeably.  Looking at the etymology (the birth and development) of these two words, we see a subtle shift in meaning:

  • Conversation:  Latin origins of the verb "conversari" -- "con" meaning "with" or "together" and "versare" meaning "to turn."  In essence, conversation literally means "turning together."
  • Dialogue:  comes from the Greek words "dia" (through) and "logos" (word or meaning).  Thus, a dialogue is a flow or exchange of meaning.

What percentage do you actually understand?
(Photo credit:  What You Say vs. What They Hear, Annette Segal)

The subtleness of these two words might be in the results of the interaction:  Is the objective to turn together to understand the same conclusion or viewpoint?  Or, is the objective the simplicity of exchanging information?  Underlying both of these modes of communication is the importance of disengaging my auto-tendencies, listening deeply for understanding, and asking questions for clarity and out of curiosity?
For me, dialogue is not about convincing you of my value system.  Rather, can we stay in relationship in order to hear what is being said and to try to understand the thinking behind the words being said.
What are your thoughts?


Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Saturday, November 11, 2023

What I Know Now

Meeting with a friend who will be retiring soon, we were reflecting on our respective careers: what we have learned from our work experiences and how these lessons might inform the next stages of our lives.  This friend reflected a common theme I have heard from others:  "I wish what I know now was available to me earlier in my career."

But I wonder how valuable these lessons would have been to us in our younger years?  What do we really know now, and would this wisdom have made a difference then?

What do you know?
~~ Click on image to enlarge ~~
(Photo credit:  Peanuts, Charles Schulz, June 6, 1967)

Our discussion reminded me of a book I read several years ago, What I Know for Sure by Oprah Winfrey.  In this book, Oprah summarized her life's lessons.  I am sure that each of us could list 5-10 important things that we have learned along the way.

Can you imagine, though, of being in a room full of people and listening to their combined wisdom?  Do you think we would absorb these lessons and apply them successfully?

How do you talk to others?  Yourself?
(Photo credit:  Positive Self Talk, Dhruvi Dharia)

True... other people's wisdom might help us along the way or direct our thinking or decision-making, but our self-discovery and deciding What is True seems to stick with us longer.

Maybe the importance of life are the lessons we have learned by making mistakes, saying the wrong words, and misunderstanding others.  As we navigate the Potholes of Life, we learn what is important to others.. and to ourselves.  The Lessons Learned are the celebrations of Lives Lived... the intersection of your truths and mine!

Have you learned to be a flexible thinker?
(Photo credit:  Are you a Flexible Thinker?, Pearson Forward)

The actions of reminiscing and reflection provides time to consider:

  • What we used to think or do;
  • How we have changed; and,
  • Where the journey has taken us.

This pause to learn and wonder What Could Have Been creates a choice point to apply lessons to What Could Be.  I believe that reflection and sharing is an important step forward... if we but listen to ourselves and others!

What have you learned in your life?  Are you willing to share?

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Saturday, November 4, 2023

Back to Standard

Yes, it's that time of year again:  we fall back in the Fall and spring forward in the Spring to accommodate the sunlight at key times in our calendar year.

From what I have read, the concept in America was first proposed by Benjamin Franklin as a way to align waking hours to daylight hours and thus conserve on candles during the summer months.  It wasn't institutionalized, though, until 1918 during World War I -- and again in World War II -- to conserve on energy during summer months.  This helped the war effort.  Finally, in 1966, the Uniform Time Act standardized DST in America.

Are you ready to standardize?
(Photo credit:  Daylight Savings Time End, Getty Images)

Every Fall and Spring a discussion -- or argument -- arises about continuing this practice.  People talk about the disruption it causes in sleep patterns, confusion with work schedules, and the fact that we are no longer an agrarian society.

A few side notes to consider:

  • A common myth is that Daylight Savings Time was created to help farmers.  In truth the farmers have been against this practice from the beginning.
  • Ancient civilizations adjusted to daylight hours more flexibly that we do now.

Like most traditions and practices there may be misunderstandings on their origins or their value in our current world.

Which raises a few questions:  What have we been taught?  What do we know for certain?  What do we assume or believe as fact?

What standards or guidelines are important to you?
(Photo credit:  World Standards Day 2019, Aristotle Metadata)

As we adjust our clocks and check our smoke detectors, maybe we could also step back and notice our reactions -- positive and negative -- to rules, regulations, guidelines, and standards.

  • Do we consider each of these restrictive or limiting?  Why?
  • Have we had bad experiences with boundaries?  When?  What happened?
  • Are we selective in which ones we follow (e.g., we use our seat belts but drive above the speed limit)?

When I was young, I heard my parents' and teachers' admonitions as unbending truths.  As I grew older and encountered situations that no longer fit these exact rules, I needed to develop critical judgment -- maybe even wisdom? -- to read a situation and decide what was best.

What creates safety for you and others?
(Photo credit:  Backyard Sandbox, This Is Why I Am Broke)

Now I see standards as starting points for our society to function and understand one another:  that is, rules and regulations serve as boundaries to keep us safe as
we play in the Sandbox of Possibilities.
If we decide to go beyond socially accepted norms:
  • Can we remain safe enough to stay alive?
  • Will we hurt anyone else?
  • How do we explain our decisions?

In essence, rules, regulations, and guidelines create predictability... in a world that sometimes is not.  Understanding the standard (how it came about; why it is in place) is as important as our need to change it.
As we fall back and spring forward, let's consider this movement of resetting ourselves... to fall back and listen before we spring forward into action.


Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Saturday, October 28, 2023

All Hallows Within

Autumn is a time of change: moving from a season of growth and activity to a season of harvest and slowing down.  In many places, you can feel and see the change... in the crispness of the air, the colors of nature, fall sports, and the clothes people wear.  

Change... a time for reflection.

What have you harvested this season?
(Photo: Autumn Scene, Old Town San Diego
- Larry Gardepie)

In ancient Celtic times, people would dress up in costumes and dance around bonfires to ward off ghosts and evil spirits.  As the Christian faith spread, these pagan rituals were adapted into holy days of remembrance -- remembering those who have gone before us, the Saints and Souls of our Holy Ones. 

It was a reminder of "all hallows": seeing and celebrating goodness; a reminder that all people have Sacred Worth and Value.

How do you celebrate your goodness?
(Photo: Halloween Decorations, Encinitas, California - Larry Gardepie)

But I have to admit, it is sometimes difficult to see the goodness in others!  Our news, movies, TV programs, and stories are built around those ghosts and evil spirits that also inhabit us -- the Good-and-Evil, Win-or-Lose struggle that we encounter every day.  It's as if we have to point to someone else for creating the mess we find ourselves experiencing:  "The Other" who hurt us and continues to cause us pain.

I wonder:  could we use this seasonal transition to reflect on the Sacred-that-We-Encounter -- even in those people who may have wronged us?

Can you build an Altar of Hope?
(Photo: Día de los Muertos altar, Old Town San Diego - Larry Gardepie)

One way of celebrating All Hallows is through
Día de los Muertos altars.  Watching people build their family's altar, I have noticed the reverence and respect accorded deceased members.  Yes, death is present, but the focus is on the goodness of the ancestors who gave life and hope to current family members.  It's a celebration of life and the sacrifices made for one another.

Who would you honor in your altar?  What stories of goodness would you share?  How would you experience the Sacred in your midst?

I wonder:  is it time to build an Altar of Hope?

All Hallows to you!

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Saturday, October 21, 2023

What We Don't See

Each day I am faced with another situation (or two or three...!) where I thought I understood or had things figured out... only to find out that I had jumped to conclusions!  Something that looked straightforward... wasn't.  Or, I didn't have all of the information... and filled in the blanks, incorrectly.

I love mystery and suspense novels where the author changes course at the very end and the last few chapters reveal a different outcome than expected.  The "who done it" ends up being simpler than the complicated conclusions I had constructed.

But, does life have to be this way all the time where I anticipate conclusions that never happen?

Could there be more than one explanation?
~ ~ Click on image to enlarge ~ ~
(Photo Credit:  Beetle Baily, Greg and Mort Walker, 10/21/23)

These thoughts surfaced recently when I came across a beautiful atrium where the walls were covered with gold-tinted, beveled cut glass.  The walls reflected hundreds of angles of the same lobby but from unique perspectives.  And, when standing in certain locations, the opposing mirrors displayed infinite images moving further away.

I was reminded that where I stand in this moment provides a different view and perspective than if I were to change my position.

Is this true, then, with life in general:  if I were to change my position, would I see an issue differently?

What do you see from where you are standing?
(Photo: Mirrored Wall Reflecting All Angles - Larry Gardepie)

Another special feature of this atrium was the glass staircases:  the sides and the flooring of the spiral stairs were glass.  At first, it was disorienting to walk up or down:  you could see where you were going... straight down!  Arriving at the top of this three-story atrium, I looked down to view the glass stairs, gold-tinted walls, and the lounge area: I was looking at an Eye!

I wonder:  is it a matter of paying attention to where we are going that we are able to see more clearly?

When do you not see what is before you?
(Photo: the Eye of ms Noordam Atrium - Larry Gardepie

Paying attention?  Changing positions?  Seeing more clearly? 

Maybe there's more to life than the way I see it.  Maybe it's a matter of moving beyond the self-reflected images I have of myself.  Maybe it's a matter of staying open to other views.

And maybe this week, it's a matter of waiting for the Author of Life to reveal a different outcome in the next chapter of my life.

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Saturday, October 14, 2023

Choice Points

Remember back in high school math and science classes when we were learning about formulas, memorizing and exploring theories, and conducting cause-and-effect experiments?  What I recall is the sense of discovery and exploration: what is true and known versus what might be and needs to be tested.

I was soon bored by the predictable, structured experiments because we already knew the results as we poured one chemical into another.  But, the What Ifs intrigued me!

Do you know the outcomes of the decisions you are making?
(Photo credit:  Chain Reaction Definition
in Chemistry and Physics
, ThoughtCo)

That is, what would happen if we did it differently?  Yes, we could predict the outcome based on the knowledge we already possessed... but "What If" beyond the structure encouraged us to test and learn about the Unknown!

This memory came to mind when a friend told me about a workshop she attended with business school academics and economists.  The guest lecturer was presenting another way of looking at business when asked, "Are you saying business models we have been teaching are incorrect?"  The presenter responded with a "Yes" and then explained that the original business assumptions were based on self-interest and competition and not on human shared social aspects of collaboration and trust.

How much time do you take to make a choice?
(Photo credit: The Two Ways Tradition, Cheryl Mason)

I wonder:

  • What assumptions have I made about other peoples and cultures?
  • Do these assumptions create misunderstandings in how I see their customs, experiences, and ways of living?
  • Am I willing to pause, test my assumptions, and be willing to experiment with new ideas?
We encounter many choices every day -- Choice Points -- in whether we react predictably to what we see and hear or whether we pause-test-respond in a new and "pro-social" Way of Being.

Do you believe that you have a choice?
(Photo credit:  Your Choice Makes a Difference,
Susan Gunn Solutions)

When encountering another person or making decisions about our relationship to our world, the choice is ours!  It's a matter of moving from our Cause-Effect rote-action and making choices that will move beyond self-interest to collaboration and trust.
This takes reflection and dialogue -- the ability to look inward at our needs and wants as we face outward to the needs and wants of others.
What choices will I -- we -- make this week?

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Saturday, October 7, 2023

Wraps Uncovered

Many of the downtown buildings in San Diego are "wrapped" with advertisements leading up to and during Comic-Con International.  Mind you, the city has laws against building-wrap advertisements!

The local news revealed how lucrative this type of advertising is:  the hotels and businesses make far more money in advertising Hollywood blockbusters than the city's fines!  In addition, the city doesn't enforce this law because it wants the businesses, tourists, and conference attendees to have a good experience of San Diego.

I am reminded of something that happened several years ago.  Driving with a younger relative, he made a U-turn in an area where the signage said, "No U-turn."  The reply when I looked over:  "It's okay until you get caught."

Are there certain things you do... no matter what?
(Photo: Marriott Marquis and Marina,
San Diego - Larry Gardepie)

I am not placing a value or making a statement about either of these situations.  Rather, I find it interesting how we describe our society as "Law and Order" yet choose which rules or laws we will follow... and then rationalize our actions based on our belief systems.

The gap between Espoused and Actual Values is sometimes far apart!  We decide individually whether the consequences are worth the risks... no matter the impact on others or society.

When do we stand against violence?
(Photo:  "Comfort Women" Column of Strength,
San Francisco - Larry Gardepie)

There are so many examples in our society where we are inconsistent:

  • We teach driver safety... but we are distracted by our mobile devices, and we drive above the speed limit.
  • We talk about dignity and respect for each person... but we do not stand against violence in our homes and neighborhoods.
  • We agree about the importance of safe environments... but we do not protect our children and vulnerable against crimes.

Where do we find beauty and hope?
(Photo: Hanging Cranes, San Diego
International Airport - Larry Gardepie)

What happens when our espoused and actual values stay separated?  The words (or wraps) we have placed around ourselves are seen for what they actually are:  they are only there as outward show.  The core of who we are and who we want to become need to be unwrapped!  Through questions, dialogue, and listening, we can unwrap what is inside -- our innermost thoughts and desires!

Then, the hard work begins:

  • What do we do to support one another?
  • How do we work toward an integrated personal life?
  • Are we willing to live in relationship with others?

Let's begin this week:

  • What inconsistencies do you struggle with?
  • How do you experience your Column of Strength?
  • Where can I be of help?

And maybe more importantly, I need YOUR help!

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Saturday, September 30, 2023

Webs We Weave

Long before we texted and used shortcuts like AFAIK, B4N, IMHO, and LOL.... long before marketing began abbreviating store names to BK, DQ, JCP, KFC and McD... and long before we understood the differences between WWI (World War 1), WWII (World War 2), www (world-wide web), ww2 and ww3 (alternate web servers to balance load)... there was another WWW... one that we didn't want to acknowledge or market: that is, the Webs We Weave!

Oftentimes, we don't understand or pay attention to the impact that we have on others.  As we "pass along information" (gossip) or "stretch the truth" (fibs or outright lies) to "protect others," we are weaving an alternate reality that is harder to remember and track.

Where is your focus?
(Photo: full moon above trees - Larry Gardepie, 2023)

I was thinking of this as I was watching a full moon rise above our trees in the backyard.  My attention was drawn first to the brilliance of the moon and its light.  I wondered about the "sheen" that surrounded the moon: it was a warm and dry evening so little moisture was in the air.  Then I noticed two industrious spiders and their elaborate web!

As the moon rose, the spiders continued their work -- capturing the moon's brilliance in their gossamer threads.

How do you rise above?
(Photo: Web Brilliance - moon, spiders, and their web
- Larry Gardepie, 2023)

I wondered about our lives, our experiences, and the stories we create and retell.

Do we:

  • Celebrate another person's achievements and their brilliance?
  • Capture and redirect what is said to serve our own purpose?
  • Redefine or shorten historical definitions to remarket our beliefs?

What do you try to capture?
(Photo: The Webs We Weave -
moon, spiders, and web - Larry Gardepie, 2023)

When I moved around the backyard, the spiders and their web were left behind:  in order to see the full moon as it rose above the trees and fence line, I needed to reposition myself; the spiders and their web were no longer part of the view.
It took this self-positioning to return to the true focus of that moment.
Maybe that is what we are called to do now:
  • Notice the webs that we and others weave;
  • Reflect on and accept the impact these webs have on others; and,
  • Move beyond and around so that we refocus on the true brilliance of our lives in relation with others.
May Life's Beauty have an impact on you this week!

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Saturday, September 23, 2023


Arrgh!  THEY did it again!  Apple came out with a new iPhone and revolutionized their Apple Watch design... which meant every Apple device I owned had to be updated!  Over the course of a few hours, I focused on downloading and installing the iOS for each device, reviewed previous settings, and learned what was new.

Angst extraordinaire!  Wasted time, I thought, that could have been spent on other projects... or cleaning out the garage (that I have put off for months!).

I used to think that the younger generation has an "I want it NOW" syndrome... until I noticed how impatient I had become anytime I saw the Loading sign on the next device... waiting, waiting, waiting...

When do you get impatient?
(Photo credit:  Loading..., Freepik)

New information is being downloaded into our mental and emotional systems every day.  Sometimes we are impatient with this new information; other times we don't want our previous worldviews or mental models to change.  There is a struggle between whether we want to reset our value systems and learn something new or stay with what we know... where we are comfortable.

And more often than I want to admit, I run against an error in my way of thinking!  The advice with computers is to call someone who knows -- Support!

Are you willing to ask for help?
(Photo credit:  Top 15 Common Computer Problems
that Get under Your Skin
, Revolutionaized)

Thus, we come against another struggle:  setting aside our ego and pride and asking for help.  Having to acknowledge that we don't know how to handle a situation and finding someone who has the skills or knowledge we don't have is a difficult step to take.

In this complex and divided world, though, that is what we need to do more and more: becoming humble enough to acknowledge we don't know and asking another person about their experiences and what they know differently.

Can you relax in the middle of your busy-ness?
(Photo:  Sea Lion Nap, Monterey Fisherman's
Wharf - Larry Gardepie)

It is only then that we can relax and enjoy our wonderful world when we:

  • Set aside our own version of I Want It Now;
  • Realize that maybe we don't Know It All; and
  • Seek out people and ways to download new information.

It is only by loading and installing a new Way of Being that we can enjoy the new features that our world offers.  (I guess it's time to thank Apple for causing me to change my outlook this week!)

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Monday, September 18, 2023

Stories Untold

Life is amazing!  Think back on your childhood -- or if you are a parent, think back when your children were little:

  • The world was a wonder to be explored.
  • Everything was new, mysterious, and an adventure.
  • Learning and growth were the norm.

We smiled and clapped at every discovery.  We were cheered on with each accomplishment and milestone.  We walked through many doors with anticipation... and sometimes with fear and caution.  But, in those moments, I remember being encouraged to try something new.

Do you experience joy at open doors in your life?
(Photo:  Balloon Arch - Larry Gardepie)

Childhood memories and stories were being remembered and shared this past weekend at my grade school's alumni reunion.  We were celebrating the school's 65th anniversary.  As a member of the planning committee, I saw the reunion ideas form and come to life.  Leading up to the event, the empty parish hall was transformed outwardly with balloons, flowers, table clothes, photos, candles, and every festive object that reminded us of the school.
What was also fascinating?  The transformation of the alumni as they walked through the doors and saw long-forgotten faces, and began sharing tales and reconnecting with their childhood innocence, curiosity, and energy.

Are you ready for the party to begin?
(Photo:  Empty Hall - Larry Gardepie)

Isn't that what life is about:  the reconnecting of past and present; the joining of our world experience with others; the rekindling of what is lost and finding new ways to experience life?
Questions that we may want to ask ourselves:
  • Have we lost the ability to wonder and explore... why?
  • If we no longer cheer on accomplishments and milestones... why?
  • Do we encourage others... do we feel encouraged... why?

When and where do you enjoy your friendships?
(Photo: Enjoying Friends - Larry Gardepie)

A fun point in the reunion was the school tour:  we saw the small, child-sized desks we had outgrown; we drank from the fountains that were too low for our adult bodies; we heard how different current teaching methods are; and we ran to the swing sets to see who could fly the highest!
Time has changed, and so has our world.  Maybe we need moments like these to remind us to reconnect with others... to re-union (re-unite) with ourselves and the childhood wonder of the stories untold.

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)